Land protest chokes artery

Tribals up in arms against UCIL project
Jamshedpur, May 20 : Traffic movement was disrupted for about two hours at the Old Court Road in Sakchi this afternoon as tribal villagers staged a demonstration against a land acquisition drive by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL).
The villagers from Talsa started gathering in front of the deputy commissioner’s office from 10am. Armed with traditional weapons, the agitation of the tribals spilled over to the Old Court Road, choking the arterial link to National Highway 33. Long queues of heavy vehicles were seen on the road.
The agitators with placards and banners were up in arms against the PSU for its land acquisition drive. Earlier, UCIL, through a public notice issued last month, had informed the villagers of its land acquisition drive. The company proposes to acquire 276.62 acres for its tailing pond project.
The tailing pond will be used for dumping waste generated from UCIL’s Banduhurang mines.
“We are not going to part away with our land and would not even hesitate to organise sendra of outsiders and company officials. The rally has been organised to inform the district administration of our decision,” said Talsa village chief Durga Chandra Murmu.
He also claimed that more than 1,500 families would be affected if lands were acquired. Murmu said that Section 144 was imposed by the gram sabha after a meeting of villagers held at Bada Talsa on May 10.
According to Murmu, a large patch of agricultural land would be acquired by the company for developing the proposed tailing pond.
“Most of the villagers are dependent on agriculture and would not gain anything form the mining projects. We don’t want to lose our land, which is the only thing tribals have been left with,” added Murmu.
The villagers demanded that the deputy commissioner should come out of his office for receiving the memorandum. They rejected the police officers’ plea to submit their memorandum to sub-divisional officer Kartik Kumar Prabhat who was present at the spot.
After much persuasion by Prabhat and police officers, the villagers agreed to submit their memorandum to additional deputy commissioner H.N. Ram who arrived at the spot. “We have taken the memorandum and would look into the demands made by the villagers. The issue would also be brought to the notice of governor, to whom this memorandum has been addressed,” said Ram.
UCIL officials could not be contacted for comments on the issue.